The Common Good

Experiencing God's Creation, Rain or Shine

I'm a Midwestern girl coming out of her winter shell this month. Flip flops are lost companions just now crawling out from under beds and hidden closet shelves. My heart is light as I see daffodils fighting with the frozen ground and Magnolia buds cracking open. Every time the seasons flip and winter caves into spring I find my soul stunned again by the majesty and simple goodness of being outside.

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In Chicago, three long months of the year are spent at temperatures below freezing. Then, come summer we actually have the audacity to lament the chewy, 90-degree air of July. We combat both temperature extremes by flipping on the heat or air conditioning. We race from climate-controlled homes to air conditioned cars, from heated grocery stores to humidity free schools.

If I'm not careful, I'll spend half my life hiding inside.

So when I discover again the glory of God, as revealed in Psalm 36, I confess that it's hard to grasp drinking from God's deep rivers when I drink from a faucet.

But your loyal love, Lord, extends to the skies; your faithfulness reaches the clouds. Your righteousness is like the strongest mountains; your justice is like the deepest sea. Lord, you save both humans and animals. Your faithful love is priceless, God! Humanity finds refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the bounty of your house; you let them drink from your river of pure joy. Within you is the spring of life. In your light, we see light (Psalm 36:5-9).

Righteousness like mountains and justice like the sea? Nope. The elevation of Chicago is 597 feet. Try to climb that. God's love extending to the skies? Well, I do look up during worship and count the beams in the sanctuary, but I cannot see past the building to get to God's extensive skies.

Regardless of where you live, the trajectory of American life has most of us trying to eek out a life by shuffling from building to building. We are often separated from the vastness of God's creation unless we determine otherwise.

Passages like this nudge me to get outside even when the temperature hovers at 10 degrees below zero. We hear God speaking in the sunset, the snowdrift, and in all 597 feet of my Midwestern elevation if we just take the time to look and listen.

God speaks to us every day, all of creation sings the glory of God. God's mercy and goodness reach to the heavens. This year's liturgical calendar brings the Lenten journey and Earth Day into a partnership. The Christian holy week (Good Friday) shares the same calendar square as Earth Day.

Perhaps on this day we should fast and pray, worship and dream, cry and yearn for God like Good Friday and Holy Week beg us to do. And then, step outside and do it all again.

Dream and worship; be in the presence of the Almighty; feel the weight of God's glory pressing down upon us in Creation. Give praise to God who created the very heavens and earth that proclaim the work of God's hands. And let the sunshine soak our tired, weary souls as we emerge from the darkness of Lent into the splendor of the resurrection.

Step outside. Step outside.

portrait-tracey-bianchiTracey Bianchi blogs about finding a saner, greener life from the heart of the Chicago suburbs. She wrote Green Mama: The Guilt-Free Guide to Helping You and Your Kids Save the Planet (Zondervan 2009) and blogs at traceybianchi.com. Check out the other great bloggers and thinkers on the Lenten Blog Tour supporting the new Common English Bible.

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